Sage quilts, salt lamps and funky candles: Inside the teenage design craze

Tynilyia Ly’s bedroom is not what you’d usually expect from a 14-year-old. It isn’t plastered with band posters or littered with soft toys. Instead, it’s neat, chic and styled to a tee.

Interior design has not traditionally been synonymous with teenagers. But sharing one’s carefully curated bedroom decor is becoming increasingly popular among school-age girls, with funky ceramic vases, fairy lights, leafy ferns and salt lamps now all the rage.

Tynilyia Ly is all over the bedroom decor craze, which is taking off among teenage girls thanks to social media.Credit:Joe Armao

Ly says she caught the decorating bug at the start of high school, scrolling through Pinterest and TikTok for style inspiration.

“I want my space to look like my own,” she says. “My room is a place to relax, and it has all my favourite things in one place.”

Sage quilts, pastel vases and candles of various shapes and sizes quickly became her go-to purchases, which she uses to transform her room into a personal sanctuary.

Teen bedroom aesthetics is establishing itself both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. “Teen room decor” has nearly 39 million views on TikTok. Pottery Barn – one of the major homeware companies in the United States – has even opened a separate offshoot specifically for teens.

David Kelly, owner of homewares store Market Import, says more young women are visiting to browse and purchase items such as decorative bowls and colourful glassware – so much so, he’s beefed up his inventory on some items.

“I think they’ve just become more aware of the world around them and all that’s available rather than being insular like previous generations,” Kelly says, adding that without a mortgage or other financial pressures, teenagers have money to spend on home goods.

Suki McMaster, a designer who owns a store at the South Melbourne Market, partly attributes this change to COVID-19.

She says people are spending more time at home following the lockdowns and choosing to decorate their space with bright colours and varied textures to spice things up.

Looking around Ly’s bedroom, it is apparent that this new teen aesthetic is sophisticated, boasting a mature sense of style that would make a professional designer proud.

Ly says she seeks neutral, non-clashing colours, such as cream and beige, and enjoys experimenting with different shapes and textures that create a layered and calming effect.

Teenage girls often have little agency outside their bedrooms, says Dr Jessica Ford from the University of Newcastle’s Gender Research Network. Curating their room is a way to explore their creative freedom in a space they can control.

Where girls once sought “inspo” from magazines like Vogue or a handful of teen TV shows, Ford says teenagers are now influenced by global trends and an endless variety of curated styles on social media.

“Teens today are just as likely to be inspired by Riverdale as they are by dark academia Pinterest boards and Harry Styles,” Ford says. “Tumblr, TikTok and Pinterest have diversified the aesthetic inspiration from the magazines, pop stars and TV shows that shaped the bedrooms of previous generations of teens.”

Thanks to chains such as Typo, Kmart and Target, interior design has become accessible to more people, Ford adds, including young girls who may not have money to burn on non-essentials.

Kmart divisional merchandise manager Meryn Serong says the chain has increasingly noticed teenage girls buying items that inject personality into their rooms, likely as an antidote to the emotional turbulence triggered by the pandemic.

“In recent seasons we have seen customers gravitating toward products that bring them joy and take them away from the realities of the world,” she said.

“The rise of personal expression sees customers embrace more joyful designs, with colour … unique textures and nostalgic shapes and angles as key components in the feel-good factor.”

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